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Criminal charge against former NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo is dropped

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks from the One World Trade Center Tower while making an announcement in New York City, June 15, 2021.
Mike Segar | Reuters

The Albany County, New York, District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday said it was dropping a misdemeanor criminal charge filed against former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo related to a claim he forcibly touched a female aide in the governor’s mansion in December 2020.

Albany D.A. David Soares said “While many have an opinion regarding the allegations against the former Governor, the Albany County DA’s Office is the only one who has a burden to prove the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“While we found the complainant in this case cooperative and credible, after review of all the available evidence we have concluded that we cannot meet our burden at trial,” Soares said.

“As such we have notified the Court that we are declining to prosecute this matter and requesting the charges filed by the Albany County Sheriff be dismissed.”

The dismissal of the Class A misdemeanor charge came three days before Cuomo, 63, was due to appear in Albany City Court for the first time in the case, which was filed in October by the Albany County Sheriff’s Office without forewarning to Soares, whose office is responsible for prosecuting criminal cases in that courthouse.

And the announcement came after several other prosecutors indicated they would not file charges against Cuomo, who had faced a possible sentence of up to a year in prison and three years of probation if convicted in the Albany case.

The Albany complaint was lodged two months after the three-term incumbent Democrat resigned on the heels of a damning report commissioned by the New York Attorney General’s Office that found he had sexually harassed nearly a dozen women.

The criminal complaint said that on Dec. 7, 2020, when the aide visited him in the Executive Mansion in Albany, Cuomo intentionally, “and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly place his hand under the blouse shirt of the victim …. and onto her intimate body part.?

“Specifically, the [victim’s] left breast for the purposes of degrading and gratifying his sexual desires,” the complaint said.

Soares had chafed at the filing of the complaint by the Sheriff’s Office.

In November, Soares told a judge the complaint was “potentially defective” because it excluded key testimony from Cuomo’s accuser, and because parts of the complaint misstated “the relevant law.”

But Soares’ office until Tuesday had not indicated it would drop the case.

“I, like most New Yorkers, remain deeply troubled by allegations like the ones at issue here. Such conduct has no place in government or in any workplace,” Soares said Tuesday.

“Although avenues for criminal prosecution in these cases are sometimes limited, I encourage victims of workplace harassment and abuse to continue to come forward and bring these issues to light so that these important discussions can continue.”

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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